The Search For The Best Croissant

Shortly after we moved from Chicago in August 2015, Delta Airlines announced that they will offer direct non-stop flights from Raleigh to Paris starting in May 2016.  I mean come on….did they know I was moving to Raleigh!?? 

It’s May 2016 and as promised flights to Paris are leaving non-stop from RDU daily. I am hoping that we can take advantage of this soon enough. But in the meantime, I was thinking of all those people in Paris who probably aren’t as excited as me and might wonder if Raleigh, NC would be worth their time.  The short answer is, yes!

While Raleigh isn’t New York, or LA, or Chicago, it certainly has a lot to show off in it’s unique way. In the coming weeks and months I have my mind made up to make a compelling case for Parisians to come on by, experience some Southern Hospitality in my city and leave here saying “y’all”.  D’accord?

So first things first, in the South, biscuits reign supreme, BUT, I want to make sure our visitors from Paris know where to get the best damn croissant in this city of oaks.  In my first round of the quest, I visited four bakeries closest to my home.  By my side helping me is the resident taste tester, Arjun who can’t believe that every morning he gets to visit a new bakery and eat some buttery goodness.  Together, we got this!

**I came to the  Yellow Dog Bread Company for the first time when we were house hunting in Raleigh.  Believe it or not, knowing that I could be living within steps of such an amazing bakery made this house look even more appealing.  (where the heck are my priorities!). They use coffee beans from Lamplighter Roasting Company and their fresh bread offerings are amazing.  Their cinnamon buns are to die for as well, but I digress. Yellow Dog croissant has a great color and a nice crust to bite into.  It’s buttery with lots big air pockets.  Overall, a good croissant but the crust is not as flakey as I like.

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**Next up, I went to Boulted Bread which was introduced to me by one of Asha’s school friends mom (Thanks Calixta!).  She and I decided to meet there with the kids and it was one of the best breakfast dates I’ve had in Raleigh.  Boulted Bread’s main attraction are their artisan breads baked from specialty grains milled right on site! But after one look at the pastry counter I often forget that I am there to just buy bread. Their coffee is from Counter Culture Coffee.  Moving on to the reason I was there this time, their  croissant is one heck of a looker! In fact the best looking one in the bunch. A bite into the deep caramelized crust and shards of flakes flew everywhere. I LOVED IT! It was the best possible flakey mess.  The innards are soft and chewy. And it seemed like you can peel the entire croissant in a ribbon, so nicely it was folded! I would say that despite of the buttery goodness, you definitely taste the grains used to mill the flour. It’s nutty and robust!

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**Another bakery within walking distance of home is the Night Kitchen Bakehouse & Cafe.  Located in Seaboard Station, it is perhaps the one I visit most with the kids since it has room to spread out.  They sell pizza dough you guys and their hot chocolate is really really good. They serve coffee from Equal Exchange Coffee Co-op.  The Croissant at Night Kitchen was the buttery-est of all. It was perhaps a bit pale in color compared to the other three but still had a good bite.  The innards were soft and melted in my mouth.  Arjun and I had a shiny sheen on our hands and mouth after we gobbled this one up –  oh buttery goodness!!

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**The final bakery in this round of the quest is Lucette Grace  located in the downtown area.  When we first moved in the neighborhood, a box of macaroons from here was sitting on our stoop as a welcome present from our neighbor Heather! How she knew so soon that we are macaroon fiends I will never know. The bakery is large with space for a big group as well. I go here for their macaroons and other authentic french pastries.  They serve Larry’s Coffee.  Their croissant is really good with all the essential elements – bite, flake, butter, airiness.

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I visited these bakeries on separate mornings and when it came time to make the final call I wish I could have done another round of side by side comparisons.  Or may I was just looking for an excuse to eat more croissants. After much deliberation, Arjun and I think that in this round of bakeries, Lucette Grace takes home the trophy.  It was a combination of all the things that I loved about the other three  in one.  The perfect bite, flakey, crunchy, melt in my mouth, buttery, goodness.  How do they do that?? Boulted Bread was a close second with that shower of flakes and nutty innards.

Having said that I have to add that all four croissants were superior quality and you can’t go wrong with any of them!! I urge you to try all and let me know if you agree with my call.

Arjun and I can’t wait to do this again so if you have a recommendation please leave it in the comments.  And why stop in Raleigh? I am sure there are other bakeries in the triangle area that I need to visit too.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

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